Call Me Crazy, But I Love ‘Em

Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces, that is.

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Okay, to really get me on this, I think it is important to know where I am coming from. I’m an RN. In a lot of ways, I have been taught to be skeptical of holistic, natural remedies. And  I am. I am not afraid to give my child medications when it is medically necessary. I am not afraid to take my child to the doctor for routine exams. I am not afraid to take mediation myself, even when pregnant, provided it is medically indicated. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, I also don’t take meds just to take meds. That would be pointless. But natural remedies aren’t necessarily my first choice for a sick baby… Maybe that is because I don’t understand them enough, but I am certainly willing to learn more about them and don’t think they should be written off immediately.

Now when I first heard about Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces, I thought they were a load of crock. These things can’t possibly work like they say they do. Why on earth do all these hippy moms swear by them?? Aren’t they a choking hazard? What self respecting mom would use these on her kid, much less let them sleep in it?!

Well… turns out, that would be me.

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I got desperate. My child was fussy, inconsolable, seemed in pain, and nothing was working. And one day found myself where? Baby cotton Bottoms, of course. And not only do they sell these strange things, but one of the ladies was wearing one herself. So I started asking questions. Unknown to the casual observer, the purpose of these necklaces is not for the baby to actually chew on them.

Now the cool part about baltic amber is that it actually has natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. This is via succinic acid contained within the baltic amber beads. When worn against the skin, the baltic amber is heated up which then releases the succinic acid. This is absorbed through the skin, and helps to decrease the pain and inflammation experienced from teething.

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Now, I will be honest, it can be difficult to find credible websites supporting these theories, but I officially swear by them. I especially like this lady’s review. She kind of goes off on moms like myself a bit (which I have to admit, I used to do also…) but my favorite part is this bit Update 2013/11/09: Clay Jones has a great article on teething at Science-Based Medicine. Basically, the gist is that teething doesn’t really produce any serious symptoms at all, and that all the ‘treatments’ used to soothe infants through teething episodes are unnecessary.”

Umm. Okay. Have you had kids? Because I’m not so sure… Apparently she’s a grandmother. Maybe she just doesn’t remember the teething…

I have found a significant difference in Eden’s comfort when she is wearing her necklace, vs not during teething. Yes, I understand that this is anecdotal evidence and not true scientific data. But I’m going to give you a few examples of times I have noticed a drastic difference, and you can judge for yourself.

I first put Eden’s necklace on when she was around 3 months old. I thought she was teething, but being a first time mom I didn’t really have a clue. Turns out she wasn’t. So her necklace stayed on. I figured it couldn’t hurt (I will address the choking hazard issue in a bit…) So a few months later when she was getting her first tooth, I was interested to know if it was actually helping. Her necklace was taken off, and forgotten to be put back on. Perfect, we get to see if this is legit or not.

That night, she didn’t sleep. Neither did I. My poor girl was cranky, fussy, running a low grade fever and generally miserable. Then I saw the teething necklace laying on the changing table, and put it back on immediately. The next day, my girl was back to her happy-go-lucky self. Cheerful in spite of her budding teeth and inflamed gums. She was still plenty drooly but, no more fever and no more miserable baby. I was sold. And this is not the only time this happened. Necklace accidentally taken off and not put back on = cranky miserable baby, necklace put back on = cheerful teething baby.

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I will admit that she still had the occasional breakthrough pain with teething that required Tylenol, but by and large she did really well teething, especially with the front four. Not so much with the molars…

So here I am, loving my teething necklace, and my dear friend Jena is in the throes of teething baby misery. Her poor little guy had 6 teeth coming through at one time! They were having to give Tylenol and Advil every 4 hours almost around the clock. Cue desperate mom. So I tell her about my crazy love for amber teething necklaces. She was at BCB as soon as she could get there to grab one for her little guy. That night, they accidentally skipped a dose of Tylenol. And he was fine! They were able to drastically decrease the amount of medicine their little guy needed to get through the teething.

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 (Just ignore the fact that he is eating a pen… don’t worry, it was taken away immediately after this was taken. But check out the amber necklace!)

And then one day, I was having some pretty severe pain myself. I had already taken 800mg of Advil and 500mg of Tylenol. That only brought my pain from a 6/10 down to a 3/10. I was still pretty uncomfortable. Eden didn’t need her necklace. Hmm, I thought, maybe I should try it. After all, Shanda from BCB wears hers all the time for headaches… So I wrapped it around my wrist. No lie, within 30 minutes my pain had decreased to a 1/10. I couldn’t believe it. Now I seriously want one of these things for me!

But the choking hazard?! How can you risk that? Well, these necklaces are designed incredibly well, when bought from the right retailer. (The brands that are sold at BCB are Knickernappies, Healing Hazel, and Momma Goose.) To start with, each bead is individually knotted onto the string, so that even if the string did break, only one bead would come off. The beads are pretty small themselves, so would not pose a choking hazard if swallowed, and amber is non-toxic. The brand we use is Momma Goose, and part of the reason I like this particular brand is the clasp. The clasp is a snap, with a very gentle breaking point. Even if baby did pull on the necklace, it would just be pulled off, not broken. You can find more information at the links provided above. All in all, I am not worried about Eden sleeping in her necklace. Of course, the manufacturers recommend not allowing baby to sleep in it for liability purposes. But another option is to wrap the necklace gently around the ankle, underneath the sleeper.

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So all in all, I think this is a very safe and effective product. If you have any actual evidence or research supporting these claims, I would be very interested to read it. I know this sounds like the craziest form of hippy mom remedies, but I kid you not, they work. What do you think? Have you ever tried one of these on your little one or even yourself? How crazy do you think I am right about now? Or are you maybe desperate enough to give it a try? We’ve all been there. I figure its better than whiskey on the gums…

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